A legal scholar and Constitutional attorney slammed former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for her “unprecedented” decision to defy President Trump’s executive order on travel and immigration.
Jonathan Turley reacted to Yates’ opinion piece published by USA Today on Tuesday in which she added her own side notes to the Constitution’s preamble.
“I much prefer the original,” Turley told Martha MacCallum on Tuesday following the Fox News host’s reading of an excerpt from the op-ed:
“We the people of the United States” (we are a democratic republic, not a dictatorship) “in order to form a more perfect union” (we are a work in progress dedicated to a noble pursuit) “establish justice” (we revere justice as the cornerstone of our democracy) “insure domestic tranquility” (we prize unity and peace, not divisiveness and discord), “provide for the common defense” (we should never give any foreign adversary reason to question our solidarity) “promote the general welfare” (we care about one another; compassion and decency matter) “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (we have a responsibility to protect not just our own generation, but future ones as well).
Yates was fired in January by the incoming president after she ordered the entire Justice Department to not defend Trump’s travel ban. Though she did not name Trump in her op-ed, Yates has continued to be an outspoken critic of the president.
“The question really is whether she should be the messenger of this particular message,” Turley said, citing Yates’ own calls for the department to remain “apolitical.”
Turley was highly critical of Yates for the decision that led to her firing.
“Well, the action that she took I thought, was unwarranted. I was very critical of it,” the George Washington University Law professor said. “It’s unprecedented for an acting attorney general or attorney general to order the entire agency to stand down and not assist a president.”
Judges were ultimately “divided on the issue,” and the Trump administration scored a major victory in the Supreme Court, Turley noted.
“But that doesn’t mean that the people that were opposing the ban were acting in bad faith. It was a close question. But that actually undermines what Yates did,” he explained.
“She told basically all the Justice Department attorneys, including those that believed the president had the law on his side, that they couldn’t help the president of the United States,” Turley continued.
“If you want to be apolitical you can resign if you think you are being asked to do something unconstitutional. She wasn’t,” the 56-year-old legal analyst concluded. “You don’t order an entire department of the federal government not to assist the sitting president of the United States.”